Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy Paperback – Aug 15 1974
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About the Author
Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), was born in Hungary, studied medicine, but devoted himself to research in chemistry. He worked in Germany until Hitler expelled Jews from public positions in 1933, when he went to the University of Manchester as Professor of Physical Chemistry. His books include his magnum opus, Personal Knowledge, as well as Science, Faith, and Society, among others. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Personal Knowledge is a dense read and Polanyi expects the reader to be familiar with many scientific and philosophic histories. It will require several reads to begin to get a grasp on the core of the material, but even a cursory reading is enjoyable and will challenge your thinking.
If you are not hip on philosophy, but are still interested in Polanyi's view of knowing reality, there are several texts available. If you don't know what the Cartesian Enlightenment is, then Meek's text "Longing to Know" is an excellent lucid primer that a high-schooler can understand. Drucilla Scott's text, "Everyman Revived" does a good job of expositing Polanyi with some biographical data as well.
The reason I rated this text 5 stars is because it is one of the best books I have ever read. However, it is not for everyone. not even a small minority of people will truly enjoy this book. So I hope I helped you become a member of the fractional minority or vice versa.
"Magellan" has said that subjectivist investigations don't buy you much anymore, but consider this:
Objectivist investigations don't tell you anything about how to use your own mind- the only tool you have for understanding Science to begin with. Yes, our brain is incredibly complex- yes, it has scientifically-investigatable structures which may be responsible for our consciousness- but without the actual, unavoidably personal use of your brain, you have nowhere to begin. I have all the structures that Magellan discussed in my brain, serving me at this very moment- but their function is underneath even what Polanyi calls "subsidiary knowledge". We can be aware of how our mental processes appear to behave to our conscious mind, but we are not aware of the work and usage of our individual neurons. If Magellan can show me how to become aware of the individual structures in my brain with all their individual neurons, and consciously micro-mangage their function in a way that results in me obtaining a better understanding of the world than I have only through the subjective perspective of my conscious mind, then I will say Polanyi is useless.
Until then, exclusively Objectivist investigations of the conscious mind won't buy you much, in terms of understanding how you (necessarily working out of the perspective of your own state of consciousness) comprehend the world we live in. If you want to learn something, anything, from science-- and still retain a sense that you can legitimately use your own subjective mind (albiet carefully) as you learn-- then it is worth reading Polanyi.
In the light of all this philosophical pretension, it is refreshing to come across a book like Polanyi's "Personal Knowledge." Polanyi was a chemist trained in the methods of science. He understands, as few merely speculative philosophers do, the necessity of deriving theories from facts, rather than facts from theories. Yet Polanyi is more than just a scientist; he is also a very shrewd and critical thinker who does not shrink from challenging long cherished assumptions within his own discipline of science. "Personal Knowledge" is, among other things, an attack on what might be called "naive objectivism," which can be defined as the epistemological view which holds that the only valid knowledge is that which can be articulated and tested by strictly impersonal methods.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I don't think much of personological/subjective explanations of science, such as Kuhn's and Polanyi's, but I think their views should be heard and considered nevertheless. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2003 by magellan
The naturalist, materialist, and empiricist will cringe at Polanyi's book. True knowledge for Polanyi is derived as the mind becomes an active contributor to knowledge and... Read morePublished on March 29 2002 by John Zxerce
I don't think much of personological/subjective explanations of science, such as Kuhn's and Polanyi's, but I think their views should be heard and considered nevertheless. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2000 by magellan
I have read this book numerous times over the last ten years and I think it offers the only truly hopeful path for the current impasse that exists between philosophy/religion and... Read morePublished on Dec 30 1999
I regard Polányi's book as the pattern that analitical philosophy can be interesting (not only a difficult reading) although it is clear that the author gives his special... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 1999
Polanyi continues where Gestalt psychology left off, claiming, as Kant also did, that perception is an active reformer of experience (in other words, the mind actively creates... Read morePublished on March 9 1998
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